Commenters have been kicking this around in Headlines, trying to figure out how the GOP can be taking a beating when big majorities favor more tax cuts in the bill and less spending. My guess: A combination of Hopenchange fee-vah among the public and the fear that something big needs to be done soon, in whatever form. CNN’s out this morning with its own new poll showing that slim majorities support the bill — 54 percent overall and 51 percent of independents — but 76 percent approve of Obama. He got high marks on the economy in Gallup’s poll, too. If this were being sold as the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi stimulus package, which is what it is, it’d be dead on arrival, but put the Messiah on TV warning about the end times if he doesn’t get his way and it’s just enough to eke out a majority in favor. CBS and USA Today recently found 52 and 51 percent support for the bill, respectively; after tonight’s primetime sermon, expect that to bump up to 55 or more.
People are also wondering why Rasmussen’s numbers are so much lower than everyone else’s. Read Mark Blumenthal for a theory on that. Exit question: Why do majorities support the stimulus when poll after poll shows few people expect it to have a dramatic effect? Exit answer: Because, I think, the politics of a sharp economic downturn are such that the public wants to see the government doing something even if what it’s doing is a longshot to work. That’s why Republicans like Hoover and Bush were willing to intervene to try to stem the crises that began on their respective watches. It would take a strong free-market ideologue, on the order of Reagan or Ron Paul, to resist the political pressure to act for the sake of acting. Frankly, it’s amazing that so many congressional Republicans have been able to resist.